I’m going to be flying across the country on Thursday.

In two days, I’ll be spending the day flying to Arkansas. I don’t fly that often. Last year I took a quick weekend trip to see my aunt in Phoenix, but before that I hadn’t flown since my college days. And things have changed a lot!

Regulations regarding liquids, including drinks, are strict nowadays. Airlines are charging for checked baggage. They charge for food, and some airlines even charge for what used to be complimentary drinks and snacks.

Here are a few of the things I’ll be doing to make sure I have an enjoyable, yet frugal, trip.

Check the Airline Website for Regulations

I’m flying United, so I logged on to the United Airlines website to find out what the airline regulations are regarding baggage, snacks, and meals. I found out it’s $15 to check a bag, soft drinks are still complimentary, but meals cost $9.

The options aren’t real frugal, but at least I can plan.

Check the Airport Websites to see the Amenities

On my way to Bentonville, I have a three hour layover in Portland and a shorter layover in Denver. On the way back I have another short layover in Denver and a 3 hour layover in San Francisco. I checked out the airport websites, and I can get free internet access in Portland and Denver. I’ll probably spend some time online getting caught up on email during those layovers. San Francisco’s internet access is super-expensive, though, so I’ll need some other things to occupy my time.

Plan Meals and Snacks Ahead of Time

I’m planning on taking lots of dry snacks with me, so I can munch throughout the day. I know I will probably have to cover lunch and dinner on both Thursday and Saturday. Rather than waiting until I’m hungry and paying $9 for a small meal on the plane, I will be looking for slightly less expensive places to eat in the airports. Since I already checked the websites, I already have an idea of what’s available.

As for something to drink, I’m going to take an empty water bottle with me. I have some of those Crystal Light water flavor packets, so I can just fill my water bottle after going through security, rather than paying obscene amounts for a water bottle at one of the shops.

Plan Something to do During Layovers.

I already know I have some long layovers. By planning ahead for those times, I won’t find myself wandering through expensive airport shops, spending too much money. I’m taking my laptop, so I can work, books and magazines, so I can read, and my mp3 player, so I can listen to my favorite podcasts.

Realize that Sometimes You Will Pay for Convenience

And that’s OK. I will be checking a bag for $15, even though I could probably get away with a carry on for free. I don’t want to spend my long layovers dragging my suitcase all over the place. I will also be taking my laptop and a pretty big purse as carry-ons. My purse will be stocked with my water bottle, snacks, and a change of underwear, in case my checked luggage doesn’t make it.

I’m also planning on buying my meals in the airport, rather than trying to pack something in my oversized purse that won’t spoil or get squished. To me, the convenience and fresh food are worth the expense.

So wish me luck! I’m going to be leaving my hometown at 11:30 Thursday morning, and I won’t be arriving in Arkansas until 11:00 that night. And then I have to turn around and travel all day on Saturday too. I’ll be arriving home at 11:30 Saturday night…way past my bedtime.

Do you have any additional tips for me? I’d love to hear them!

Photo by M@mad.